CRYOBS-CLIM Observatory

CRYOBS-CLIM Observatory

Scientific context

CRYOBS-CLIM (the cryosphere, an observatory of the climate), accredited in 2015, is structured around the monitoring of the major components of the cryosphere: mountain glaciers and polar caps, snow and mountain permafrost. The aim is to maintain and homogenize a network of reference measurements of these key components of the water cycle in mountain or high latitude regions.

Several glaciers are monitored in the Alps, the Pyrénées, the Andes, the Himalayas and in Antarctica.

Three sites are more specifically dedicated to the study of snow and its transport in the Alps and in Antarctica.

Finally, several sites document the evolution of mountain permafrost in the Alps.


Starting year: 1920 for the Col de Porte, 1950 for the first glacier

Locations: French Alps, Antarctica, French Pyrenees

Keywords: glacier, snow, permafrost, polar cap, climate change


Web site:

CRYOBS-CLIM: Delphine Six
GLACIOCLIM Alpes: Delphine Six
GLACIOCLIM Andes: Antoine Rabatel
GLACIOCLIM Glacier de Sarrennes and Glacier Blanc: Emmanuel Thibert 
GLACIOCLIM Himalaya: Patrick Wagnon
GLACIOCLIM Pyrénées: Pierre René
GLACIOCLIM Antarctique:  : Vincent Favier
Col de Porte: Marie Dumont 
Col du Lac Blanc: Florence Naaïm 
Sites d’étude du Permafrost: Philippe Schoeneich et Xavier Bodin 

Scientific questions

The monitoring of glacier allows to study the relationship between climate variations and glacier mass balances at different spatial scales (from local to regional) by combining field measurements and remote sensing. The aim is to predict the future evolution of glaciers in terms of water resources and their contribution to future sea level rise and to understand their response dynalics to fluctuations in mass balance and thus assess the natural risks of glacial origin.

The monitoring of snow sites allow to document the processes of snow accumulation, melting and wind transport. These sites also allow to characterize the impact of climate change on the water cycle. The monitoring of mountain permafrost allows the tracking of ground freezing/thawing in mountain areas and associated geomorphological processes, as well as the follow-up of risks related to ground thawing (boulder falls, landslides).

Sites and measured variables

On glaciers and polar caps, the aim is to monitor annual, winter and summer ice mass balances, meteorology, and energy balances. At the upstream of some glaciers, hydrological monitoring of flows is also carried out. On sites dedicated to snow study, meteorological variables, height and snow characteristics are monitored. On the sites where permafrost is monitored, it is essentially the ground temperature that is recorded.

Partners and further information

The monitoring of the sites of the CRYOBS-CLIM network are financed by CNRS/INSU, IPEV, IRD, INRAE, Météo-France, Grenoble-Alpes University and Savoie-Mont Blanc University. The monitoring of Andean glaciers benefits from partnerships in Peru and Bolivia and the glaciers in the Himalayas from collaborations with Nepal.